Complete guide to duck nesting boxes

Duck Nesting Boxes: The Complete Guide

Raising ducks that lay eggs consistently is every duck owner’s wish. However, collecting eggs all over your yard every day can be a challenging task. Nesting boxes help ease egg collection because you’re certain where the eggs will be laid.

In this article, we go over everything you should know about duck nesting boxes. We’ll also review the best nesting boxes in the market as well as provide clear step-by-step instructions to build your own if you wish to.

Do Ducks Like Nesting Boxes?

As much as you might consider them a necessity for their safety from predators and a safe place for laying eggs, most ducks don’t like nesting boxes. When it comes to laying eggs, they might either or not choose to use the nesting boxes.

Preferences for every duck depend on several factors. Some will choose to create a nesting place at the corner of the house. Even if they might not like the nest, in time, they will get used to it after being trained.

What to Consider When Choosing a Duck Nesting Box

duck nesting box

The first factor to consider when choosing a nesting box is security. Ducks, unlike chickens, are slow on their feet because of their weak legs, making them vulnerable to predators. So, ensure your nesting box choice is predator-proof.

Design is also essential. However, you can look for a design that is made of durable material such as cypress, capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions. The dimensions of the entry hole should be as per a standardized specification. Also, other hardware materials such as screws, nails, and hinges should be rustproof.

Your choice of installation location should be strategic. Installation can be done annually, but during the nesting season, ensure the following is in place;

  • Place the nesting box 4-6 feet above the waterline to prevent flooding
  • Place the box on a natural setting such as a wooden landscape

Places you can install the duck nesting box are;

  • Swamps
  • Lakes
  • Oxbows
  • Ponds

For multiple boxes, remember to keep a distance of 100 feet to prevent dumping. Dumping is when a duck doesn’t remain consistent in laying its eggs in one nesting box. The result is an overload on one box, hence reducing hatching success as one box may be left unhatched.

How Many Nesting Boxes Do Ducks Need?

Unlike chicken nests, duck nests should be bigger as they are more territorial than chickens. So, you’ll need one duck nesting box for three ducks. On the other hand, you can increase the number to five if you’re collecting eggs daily.

Ensure the nesting box is measuring at least 12 by 18 by 18 inches, i.e., length, width, and height. It will significantly help avoid egg breakage due to their territorial behavior, which might result in a fight. In case you choose to use the boxes as natural incubators; each duck should have one of its own.

What Size Should a Duck Nesting Box Be?

What Size Should a Duck Nesting Box Be

Ducks may not cooperate when it comes to laying eggs. Also, compared to chickens, they need bigger nesting boxes. As you already know, the best dimension should be 12 by 18 by 18 inches.

But you can make the nest in the dimensions of 18 by 18 by 18 inches. Also, use the recommended materials to ensure the boxes are cozy to make the ducks feel comfortable. The ducks should be able to stand and turn around easily in their nesting box.

If you prefer to be dimension specific when looking for specific ducks to breed, it can significantly help in;

  • Increasing hatching success
  • Reducing dumping
  • Preventing egg breakage

For example, the call duck breed requires a nesting box measuring 16 by 16 by 16 inches.

Which Material is Best?

As mentioned earlier, cypress is the significant component of the materials you should consider if you prefer building a nesting box. On the other hand, cedar is also a good option. Keep in mind to use wooden materials than metallic ones.

For the roof, though, you can use an iron sheet and the nails and the screws to hold the components of the nesting box in place. Wood is a preferable material since it can shield the ducks from external cold temperatures by using thick wooden panels. Wooden options you can consider are;

  • Untreated pine.
  • Marine play with a 17mm thickness
  • 17mm thick exterior ply

How to Install Nesting Boxes

Essential factors to consider when installing the nesting box are;

Position of your nesting box

The position of the nesting box will depend on your coop setup. If you use a single duck for egg-hatching, consider having at least one roomy nest that isn’t high above the ground to prevent the ducklings from falling out.

Since ducks may not be inclined to use the nesting boxes, they are unlikely to use ones set up high above the ground. Putting a lip in front of the straw and shaving will keep the arrangement in place if the duck starts scratching the floor.

Where to put the nesting boxes

Where you prefer to place the duck nesting box is up to you. Some of the places you can opt for are;

  • Tree Trunks: You can either go for either a dead or live tree trunk. Avoid white birch or popular trees. It is because beavers tend to eat these trees, rendering them weak. Also, don’t place the boxes near stiff branches as raccoons can easily access the nesting box and eat the eggs.
  • Steel Poles: Ensure the steel poles are placed solidly in a marsh bottom or soil for the stability of the nesting boxes. Instead of steel poles, you can use a wooden box measuring four by four inches and have a predator cone below it. When installing on land, place the boxes six feet. But on water, ensure the boxes are three feet above the water level.

Maintenance routines

As for maintenance, you’ll have to clean out old nesting materials by replacing them with layers of fresh wood shavings. It is supposed to be done after the nesting season annually. Remember to keep this maintenance practice routine once you shall have installed the duck nesting box.

Decorating Nesting Boxes

decorating duck nesting boxes

How do you decorate a duck nesting box? Key features to consider are the exterior and interior decoration, i.e., painting and other bedding components in the box, respectively.

For bedding, you can use straws, pine and cedar shavings, hay, and nesting pads.

Also, you can add herbs to make the surrounding space smell good. It is essential to make the ducks feel comfortable hence prompting laying.

Keep in mind to avoid using shredded leaves and grass clippings. Such materials are absorbent and get dirty faster. Grass, when used, tends to create a moist environment. On the other hand, newspapers tend to ink faster hence staining the eggs.

The use of these materials will make cleaning the boxes’ interior difficult. That is why it is ideal to use the earlier suitable materials. Most ideally, you can stick to using straw as it’s way easier to clean and doesn’t create a gross environment in the surrounding space.

As for the exterior, consider painting using eco-friendly paints. Natural paint protects your feathered neighbors from health risks associated with toxins from industrially-made paints. Ensure the paint blends with the surrounding external environment.

To spice up the general appearance of the environment. Consider planting flowers such as sage or catnip. Apart from improved beauty, they also keep insects away hence protecting the ducks as they lay in the nesting box.

If the Nesting box is located near your house, you can use curtains or a sack for a bigger nesting box to moderate lighting in the nesting box. It is to help prevent egg breakage.

Training Ducks to Lay in Nesting Boxes

Training ducks to lay in the boxes can be a challenging ordeal. Depending on the breed, the training period can either be long or short.

Locking a duck periodically in a nesting box will build a conditioned reflex action over time to make the duck lay in the nest. On the other hand, you can place their feed near the nesting house to frequent the place as much as possible.

Additionally, you can ensure that the nesting box is attractively designed to attract as many ducks as possible. You can do this by making the interior cozy.

In case the ducks appear to position themselves at the entrance, it might be because of the box’s small size or the low lighting in the box, or overpopulation. To curb this, consider constructing or buying a bigger nesting box. Also, you can reduce the population per box and ensure moderate lighting.

Common Problems with Nesting Boxes

Having a birdhouse doesn’t necessarily mean that birds, e.g., ducks, will nest in the nesting box. Problems associated with nesting boxes are;

  • Ignoring the nesting boxes and nesting somewhere else: some breeds of ducks are specific about how their nesting space should be. Some of these specifics can be dimensions, house shape, among other factors. You can fix this through training or by revising the dimension based on the breed.
  • Incorrect choice of nesting box: The entrance hole should be large enough for bigger birds to nest in. On the other hand, consider using appropriate sizes for small-sized birds.
  • Invasion by predators: External invaders such as raccoons can discourage nesting by other birds such as ducks. It is because these birds are always looking for safe nesting space.

How to Make Nesting Boxes for Ducks

You should know the importance of duck nesting boxes; by now. If you are a DIY kind of person, this should be relatively easy for you. Below is an outline detailing how to make a nesting box for ducks.

Materials you’ll need

The requirements you’ll need are;

  • Straight edge
  • Sandpaper
  • Measuring tape
  • Wooden screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Hardware cloth
  • Untreated cedarwood
  • Jigsaw
  • Handsaw

Procedure

Follow the below procedure:

  • Measure and cut the woods into six pieces for the floor, back, front, roof, door, and side.
  • Fasten the screw on the side to attach it to the back.
  • Make a 1/2″ drainage hole on the floor and attach the back to the floor and the side.
  • Using a pencil, draw a hole at the front and create the hole using a jigsaw. The measurement of the hole is critical. You should drill the hole as per the dimensions.
  • Using a handsaw, score a face at the front where ducklings will be climbing. Also, you can opt for a hardware cloth.
  • Using six screws, attach the front part.
  • Use sandpaper to round up the top edges. Attach the door to the sides, the floor, and the roof by fastening using two screws to form the hinge.
  • Using four screws from the top and the back, three screws, attach the door in place. Conclude by putting a layer of wood shavings as beddings on 4-6 inches high.

Best Duck Nesting Boxes

If you’re not a DIY person, then buying a duck nesting box is the best option. When purchasing, you should consider picking the best one as a long-term investment. Below are viable options you can choose from.

Cypress Wood Duck Nesting

Just as the name suggests, this nesting box is handmade from cypress wood. Cypress wood duck nesting box has an oval entrance measuring 4″. Also, this nesting has its dimensions as 24″ by 11″ by 12″. The nesting box has solid brass inches on two of the side doors for easy access.

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Pros

  • It is large enough hence easy to clean
  • Built by long-lasting materials, i.e., cypress wood

Cons

  • Installation can be a little challenging
  • Seems narrower as it has shorter width and height

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Rhino Wood Duck Nesting Box

Rhino wood nesting box is ideal for protection. It has perfect insulation. It is worth noting that the materials made of this nesting box are primarily polystyrene. Additionally, it measures 14 by 14 by 23 inches and weighs 9 pounds.

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Pros

  • Eco friendly
  • Mounting and installation is easy
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • It might not be easy to install
  • Susceptible to destruction under diverse weather conditions

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Summary

Duck nesting boxes are essential components when caring for ducks and ducklings. If you choose to build one for yourself, ensure you follow the correct dimensions and procedures. On the other hand, you can buy the nesting box. So, it all depends on your choice.

Resources

Image Credit: Photo by Aaron J Hill from Pexels, Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels